Donald Trump, the US property magnate and reality television host, has declared his interest in running for president, saying that "somebody has to do something, because we are losing this country".
Trump has been tempted to consider ploughing his estimated $2bn (€1.44bn) fortune into a White House bid by what is a wide open Republican field.
Despite fierce opposition on the Right to President Barack Obama and his Democratic colleagues, no strong challenger has yet emerged for the 2012 election.
The early front-runners for the Republican nomination include Mitt Romney, who came a distant third to John McCain in 2008, and Sarah Palin, who may be a hero to conservatives but remains deeply divisive.
A host of other senators and state governors with little name recognition are also jostling for position.
"I've had so many people over the years ask me to do that (run for president) and for the first time in my life I am absolutely thinking about it," Trump said.
Trump has already shown his knack for publicity. He appeared on television over the weekend to distance himself from a mysteriously commissioned poll in New Hampshire, an early voting state, which asked voters for their views of him.
Even before hosting the American version of 'The Apprentice', Trump (64) was a prominent figure thanks to the near collapse of his property empire in the 1980s and his colourful private life.
It is not clear whether Trump would run as an independent or Republican. He could conceivably be joined in the race by another wealthy, self-financed candidate in Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York.
Trump is not the first celebrity to be lured by the prospect of being the most powerful elected official in the world.
Actor Warren Beatty considered running in the Democratic primary in 2000 because he thought the favourites, Al Gore and Bill Bradley, were insufficiently liberal. (© Daily Telegraph, London)